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Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, killing more men and women than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. In fact, lung cancer makes up nearly 25% of all cancer deaths according to the American Cancer Society.
It’s as scary as it sounds, but there is good news. The number of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer is declining and the survival rate of those diagnosed is increasing. That’s because more people are quitting smoking—and advances in lung cancer screening make it easier than ever to detect lung cancer early. In addition, it’s quick and simple to find out if you’re eligible for a screening often covered by insurance.
3D pictures of your lungs can reveal small abnormalities before symptoms appear.
Today, doctors can find signs of lung cancer before you experience symptoms using modern x-ray technology called a low-dose computed tomography scan, or LDCT scan. During an LDCT scan, a radiologist takes x-rays of the lungs from multiple angles, creating a 2D image of your lungs and the surrounding areas.
These images are so detailed that doctors can see tiny spots, called nodules. Most nodules are smaller than half an inch and aren’t cancerous, but annual lung cancer screening can track them over time. A growing nodule may be a sign of cancer, so a change in size may prompt your doctor to further evaluate a suspicious nodule.
Screening can reduce your risk of dying from lung cancer by as much as 20%.
Early screening increases your chances of catching lung cancer early when there are more treatment options and survival rates are higher. In fact, LDCT scans can save more lives compared to traditional chest x-rays, based on a study from the National Cancer Institute. Those considered at risk for lung cancer are actually as much as 20% less likely to die from lung cancer if it’s caught via LDCT scans, compared to chest x-rays. They also deliver 75% less radiation compared to traditional CT scans. By significantly reducing the amount of radiation your body is exposed to, LDCT scans offer the benefit of early detection without the risk that comes with a standard chest scan.
Lung cancer screening is painless, short, and can add years to your life.
During an LDCT scan, you’ll lie down on a table for about 10 minutes while a table passes slowly through an x-ray machine—or an x-ray machine will move around you. You may be asked to hold your breath periodically, which will ensure quality pictures. The scan won’t hurt at all, and since most machines don’t enclose your whole body, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel claustrophobic.
Most importantly, lung cancer screening can save your life, giving you more time with your friends and family.
How to find out if you're eligible for a lung cancer screening.
It takes five minutes to find out if you’re eligible for a lung cancer screening that can detect cancer early when it’s more easily curable. Our lung health questionnaire is a brief and confidential survey that assesses the likelihood that you may develop the disease based on your responses to questions about your:
- Personal health
- Family history
- Pre-existing conditions you may have
- Symptoms you may be experiencing
- Exposure to environmental hazards
- Scheduling a lung cancer screening at a convenient location nearby
- Modifying your lifestyle and medical conditions, including resources to help you quit smoking
- Enlisting the support of MedStar Health providers who can help you be as healthy as possible
What if I don’t qualify for a lung cancer screening?
If you take the lung health quiz and find out you have a low risk of developing lung cancer, that’s great news! You’ll still receive a snapshot of your wellness, including:
- Current lifestyle habits that are positively contributing to your overall health
- Suggestions for things you can do to improve your health
- Resources that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle